Saturday, 1 March 2014

Self injury awareness day

Yep today is self injury awareness day, a day to promote awareness and tackle stigma. And there's a lot of stigma, a lot of preconceptions and false assumptions. This, obviously, is a very important subject to me in a very personal way. Because of that I'm struggling to know where to go with this. I've mentally planned posts about the myths surrounding self harm, ways to stop self harm, statistics, what self harm even is (and maybe I'll actually write that one some time because it's complicated). None of them feel right. Though if you want to know more about that then www.lifesigns.org.uk is a good place to start.

Today, however, I want to start with the fact that I haven't self harmed in six months. Not exactly, I never was any good at tracking days, but roughly. I want to say it because I'm a little bit proud, I haven't gone that long since I was 17 and I just turned 25. And it's not often I feel proud of anything related to self harm.

Self harm isn't anything to be ashamed of certainly but it also doesn't give you much cause to feel good about yourself. Often the way I perceive my behaviour is very different from the way others perceive it. Other times in aware the way I'm behaving is unfair but am unable to see another option, or the other options seem less fair. And the fact that society's (though not always individual's) starting point in assessing me is as attention seeking and manipulative because I self harm doesn't help.

The most shame I feel about any event of my self harming 'career' was last year. I had regular appointments with the nurse at the time due to a burn on my leg. in between appointments I cut the same leg in a position where the nurse couldn't help but see it at the next appointment. The one and only time I've self harmed with the deliberate intention of someone seeing (I've screwed up or misjudged or just been stupid before but not deliberately). I wanted her to notice and I wanted her to react and I want her to do something.

So there we have it. Self harmers must be manipulative and attention seeking right....?

Or not. Even assuming that is the whole story in that scenario that is only one instance out of hundreds (thousands? :s) and I'm only one individual out of thousands. Hardly representative.

Back to my scenario. I definitely went about things in the wrong way. And I certainly don't condone using self harm or anything similar to get your own way. But bear with me a sec and I'll give you some background.

Up until a few months before I'd been paying for private therapy but stopped basically because any benefit wasn't enough to justify the £135 per session, care workers just don't get paid that much. I'd quit smoking (as an aside isn't there meant to be nsh help for this? I asked my Dr and she just told me to Google) which had a huge effect on my mood.
A psych nurse had told me she'd recommend me for a meds review with their psych but at the same time told my gp that there was nothing they could offer me. So my gp increased my meds to a dose which I said I didn't particularly want to be on because id had bad results from it in the past. But there's only so much a gp can play with psych meds.
Gp Yes. I saw her every few weeks so I had regular contact there at least. Problem was she'd ask how I was and any answer from 'brilliant' to 'absolutely hideous' provoked the same response: make an appointment for about six weeks time. She'd ask to see any recent injuries and invariably sent me to the nurse for dressings.

In short everything was shit. And getting more shit. I was scared basically. And I didn't think anyone was listening. Hence the attention seeking. It was out of character (I hope) and like I say I'm not proud but I needed something to change and I didn't think I could do it myself.
Of course talking to people is a better way to get help but I felt like I'd tried that.

So that's my story and my confession for the night.
There are a lot of contradictions in self harm care.
If you ask for help you don't get it unless it's serious enough.... But in order to judge that they have to see and then you're attention seeking.
You're told not to use self harm as a way to communicate your mood... But the first thing they ask to gauge how well you're doing is how often you've been self harming recently.
You use self harm as a coping mechanism. It helps you cope. Therefore you're coping. Therfore you don't need help (but btw just stop self harming please).
Speaking of coping, if you take away a coping mechanism you'd expect to struggle right? If you come off a medication you're closely monitored. If you stop self harming you're cured. Bye bye.

I was told a long time ago that they wouldn't help me because I wouldn't stop self harming and was therefore uncooperative and non compliant and deliberately choosing to remain sick. Um of it was as simple as just stopping I wouldn't be wasting their or my time surely? Then later when I tried to stop on my own and my thoughts and mood went to shit that was ok because I was managing my self harm on my own.

I feel like I'm ranting and I'm sorry. I really didn't mean this to turn into a little personal diatribe. And there are some amazing medical professionals out there. The nurse I tried to manipulate into helping me was pretty awesome for example. Just the general, pervasive view and the system as a whole Sucks. Of course part of this is the usual budget and staffing constraints... isn't it always? But part of it I think is a reflection of the views of society at large.

Evidently im ok. To a certain extent at least. Not everybody is. And like anything the less time you do it the easier it is to stop so the quicker people get decent help the better.

No I'm not proud of self harm. And I hate how much it hurts the people I care about. But ultimately in not ashamed of doing what I felt I needed to to survive at the time. And id do anything to change the system for the future.
Sorry for the lecture. x

Ps. must just mention the polish im wearing on my ring finger which is called the butterfly project and is made by lucky13lacquer (http://www.lucky13lacquer.com/ as it won't let me link). I posted about it a while back and it's a polish specifically about raising awareness and helping people to stop self harming. The rest of the mani is sinful colors big daddy and nails Inc bond Street. X